(12-7-1, 6-3 A-Sun)
(13-3-4, 7-0-2 A-Sun)
11/10/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 689
|Stats at a Glance||JU||FGCU|
|Shots (on Goal)||7 (5)||31 (10)|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU women’s soccer team (13-3-4, 7-0-2 Atlantic Sun) out-shot Jacksonville University (12-7-1, 6-3 A-Sun) 31-7 in Sunday afternoon’s A-Sun Championship Game but were unable to find the back of the net and ultimately fell 5-3 in penalty kicks after double-overtime failed to produce a winner.
The title of A-Sun Tournament MVP would go to Jacksonville goalkeeper Sarah Sierra who stood on her head for the Dolphins in this one, making 10 saves and coming out the net to clear away potentially dangerous crosses on numerous occasions. The game came down to penalty kicks after 110 minutes of action where one miss would doom the Eagles as Jacksonville was able to go 5-5 with their tries to deny FGCU a third-consecutive A-Sun championship.
“Obviously I’m very proud of our team, the season we had and our performance today,” head coach Jim Blankenship added. “We had so many opportunities to go ahead and you don’t want to get to that moment where it winds up going to PK’s but our kids had a good attitude about it and they pushed forward. You have to tip your hats to them, their goalkeeping was unbelievable today. She really was outstanding and the Defensive Player of the Year (Ally Lee) lived up to that billing … We’re disappointed but that’s sports, if you do it long enough you wind up on both ends and it’s not fun, but you have to use it motivate and drive yourself. There’s nothing good about losing and you have to be sure to respect that moment. We went after the game and credit to them they withstood all of the pressure and made big play after big play.”
In the first half, both teams traded efforts in the midfield before Jacksonville generated the first catch-your-breath moment of the game. Grove beat FGCU defender Emma Blackwell (Jenks, Okla./Jenks HS) in the midfield and played the ball past the defense leaving Kaitlyn Bassett all alone with Brittany Brown (Rochester, N.Y./Greece-Athena HS). The A-Sun Goalkeeper of the Year came off her line to challenge the play and with a diving effort took the ball right off Bassett’s foot without a shot.
From that point on, FGCU put constant pressure on the JU defense. The story of the first half can really be told by the players for FGCU that came off the bench. Sarah Lowicki (Ontario, Canada/Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School) checked in and immediately registered a shot off a corner kick. The Canadian later took a ball down the middle of the field and moving to her right at the top of the box let fly a laser that sailed just past the post on the near side.
For the sixth-consecutive game, Shannen Wacker (Parker, Colo./Ponderosa HS) came off the bench and provided a spark up top. While she failed to register a shot, she did have a one-on-one opportunity with Sierra after a Dolphin player misplayed a ball. Sierra would collide would Wacker before an attempt on net could be made.
The Eagles would outshoot JU 11-1 in the first half but without many tailor-made scoring chances. The corner kicks totaled 4-0 in FGCU’s favor.
In the 53rd minute, FGCU had the best chance to score that it would generate all day. Tabby Tindell (Ocala, Fla./Trinity Catholic HS) drove in on net and let loose a rocket that would be turned away by Sierra, the rebound however, put Sierra out of position as the ball landed on the foot of Kaitlin Parker (Palm Harbor, Fla./Clearwater Central Catholic HS) who had a clear look at the back of the net but sent the shot soaring high above the cross bar.
From there FGCU would put the JU defense through the gauntlet and to the Dolphins’ credit they withstood it. The Eagles would attempt seven-consecutive shots between Jacksonville tries. Parker, Tindell and Paulina Speckmaier (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep/Miami University) let loose tries to no avail. Even the lone active senior, Kayley Clay (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS/Lynn University), got in on the action with a shot of her own.
With the clocking ticking down under two minutes to play regulation, FGCU ramped up the pressure once again. Tindell would have another shot turned aside by Sierra and with seconds remaining, a cross into the box resulted in what appeared to be a near scoring chance but Speckmaier would be called for making contact with the ball with her hand, sending this one to overtime.
In the first overtime, FGCU would try three shots in the final two minutes all to no avail. Switching sides for the second overtime, FGCU’s best chance wouldn’t even go down as a shot. Tindell found herself past the defense and one-on-one with Sierra. Without making a move on net, Tindell lost control as Sierra came out and took the ball of her feet less than six-yards in front of the goal. FGCU would finish regulation with its fourth tie and a season-high 31 shots.
In the penalty kick rounds, Melissa Arnold (Sicklerville, N.J./Timber Creek Regional HS), Tindell and Speckmaier scored their tries, matching the Dolphins attempt-for-attempt. Brooke Sill (Lake Zurich, Ill./Eastern Illinois University), who had not appeared in the match, would get the nod for the fourth FGCU attempt and her shot would sail wide-right. Adriana Rodrigues came to the line for JU and buried her shot to propel the Dolphins to champion status.
“Now it’s about building back up,” Blankenship continued. “These kids are devastated, especially the kids that are seniors that have been here four years and never tasted defeat. It’s about building back up, understanding the moment and the drive to not allow this to happen again. This is why it’s very difficult to three-peat. There are a lot of little variables that don’t always go your way.”
By not allowing a goal on Sunday afternoon, the Eagles extend their streak without allowing a score in the A-Sun Tournament to 448:12 minutes. They also extend their home unbeaten streak against conference opponents to 27 games, dating back to the 2009 season.
The result does not change the historic status this team achieved in the all-time record books. The numbers would suggest that this was the greatest season offensively in FGCU women’s soccer history. The Eagles set program single-season records in points (130), goals (43), shots (384), shots per game (19.20), shots on goal (180) and shots on goal per game (9.00).
Tabby Tindell put together one of, if not the greatest individual seasons in program history in just her first year suiting up for the Green and Blue. The Ocala, Fla. native established single-season program records in points (34), goals (15), goals per game (0.75), shots (71), shots per game (3.55), shots on goal (44) and shots on goal per game (2.20).
Shannen Wacker closes her junior campaign just three goals shy of the program record of 24. She is obviously well ahead of the pace to break that record as she has averaged seven goals per season over the course of her career.
Brittany Brown closes 2013 with her ninth shutout of the season and fourth-straight. Her nine clean sheets this season rank second all-time.
FGCU will return 93.8 percent of its scoring for the 2014 campaign. Only Clay (7 points) and Casey Towne (Royal Palm Beach, Fla./Lander Univ.) (1 point) will depart from the program.
The FGCU women’s soccer program would like to thank all of the students, fans, donors, members of the media, event staff and athletics department staff that helped to make the 2013 season a tremendous success and look forward to having your support again in 2014.